SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — Raju Kosuri, 44, and Smriti Jharia, 45, an Indian American married couple from Virginia pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States and visa fraud, among other charges.
The couple were indicted in April, and according to court documents, the two, along with their co-conspirators, fraudulently applied for more than 900 illegal immigration benefits under the H-1B visa program.
Beginning in 2008, and with their greatest push coming in 2011, Kosuri constructed a hiring firm that amounts to a visa-for-sale system, in violation of federal law, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.
In the original draft of the indictment, Kosuri was alleged to have set up a network of shell companies that he told immigration authorities were independent businesses in need of Indian workers. However, he both owned and controlled all of the companies. It additionally alleged he and his co-conspirators used the companies to file petitions for non-existent job vacancies at Kosuri’s data center in Danville.
At that data center, Kosuri required workers to pay their own visa licensing fees, court documents said. That’s a direct violation of the clearly stated H-1B program rules; he was also alleged to treat the beneficiaries as hourly contractors, which is also a violation of H-1B visa program rules. The scheme also involved forgery of numerous individuals’ signatures on visa petitions and exhibits without their knowledge, the indictment charged.
Kosuri and his wife also admitted Thursday to defrauding the Small Business Administration in connection with a scheme to obtain HUBZone certification for a business named EcomNets Federal Solutions.
As part of the plea, Kosuri has agreed to forfeit the proceeds of the fraud, the amount of which is $20,900,000.